The huge dunefields of Great Sand Dunes National Park in Colorado, which feature sand dunes up to 200 meters tall, is a tough place for any plant to survive. It is dry, the dessicating winds are harsh, and the threat of being buried by the ever shifting sands is a daily battle for those few organisms that make this area their home.
I visited this National Park in September 2019, and the first plants I noticed as I entered the dunefield was Psoralidium lanceolatum (lemon scurfpea), which formed large colonies along the sandy perimeter of the actual dunes.
|A colony of blowout grass|
|A colony of blowout grass clinging to the side of a dune|
The rhizomes grow at varying depths, which might be an adaptation to the constantly fluctuating height of the sand dunes. Entire plants can be regrown from the rhizomes, even if they are buried deep in the sand.
|Habit of blowout grass|